Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

MINDFULNESS-RELATIONSHIPS

Being Fully Present in Your Relationship

When we get used to being with our partner we can sometimes take them for granted. We assume they’ll always be there. So we move on to our worries and stresses. We become so preoccupied with the kids or the challenges in our career that when we are eating dinner and trying to take part in meaningful dialogue, we aren’t even there. Then there is the constant distraction of our electronic devices that although convenient also become an obstacle to chitchat, discussion and intimate conversation. After a while without meaningful interaction we start to feel like roommates with our partner or spouse rather than lovers. The day-in, day-out decisions of running the household, parenting and paying the bills become the focus, and otherwise each person lives in their own separate bubble. When it comes time to interact, give your partner your undivided attention. When we aren’t fully present we aren’t showing them the love and respect they deserve. Instead, we are neglectful, albeit not on purpose. But the message we are inadvertently sending is that what is on my mind is more important than you. Misunderstandings arise when we don’t listen fully to our partner. This can lead to problems or even terrible fights. So how can we be more present with our partner?

First, make a conscious effort to focus on them and what they are saying. If there is something particularly important on your mind and you are distracted, tell them about it. Let them know how you feel and schedule another time to talk. Try and give them your undivided attention and expect the same in return. Make positive eye contact. Repeat back what they’ve said in your own words to show that you understand. When your partner or spouse seems distracted, don’t tell them or remind them of something. Wait until you have their full attention. If you are distracted and they told you something, don’t assume that they will remind you. It’s best to check with your partner in a positive manner whenever you are unsure. Regular running of the household exchanges are of course important. But they don’t help build intimacy. You two have to make time to talk on a deeper level. At the end of the day, we may be so exhausted that we just want to watch a couple of TV shows or surf the net, check our social media pages and go to bed. But that doesn’t bring you closer. Instead, clear out a little time each day to spend talking on a deeper level.  Not just, “How was your day?” But what really happened to you today? What were you thinking about? How did it make you feel?

Sometimes you have to leave the dishes in the sink or put off laundry and spend a little couple time together. Some experts say having more sex is the answer. But a recent study found that building intimacy is far more important. When miscommunication, unfulfilled expectations and misunderstandings occur they get in the way of real intimacy, and so not only block your connection but your ability to get physical. Hurt feelings get in the way. When we are fully present with our partner, the chances of miscommunication and misunderstandings are lower. Knowing what they expect will help meet or exceed expectations and vice-versa. Mindfulness is a touchstone nowadays. This is an ancient Buddhist practice that has become trendy lately in the West. This is the art of being fully present in the here and now and appreciating each moment in all its richness. If we could practice mindfulness in our relationships they would be so much more intimate. Couples would have a deeper sense of intimacy, better sex and superior communication too. To learn more pick up a copy of, The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want by Robyn D. Walser, Ph.D. and Darrah Westrup, Ph.D.

Relationship Skills used by Happy Couples

Man And Woman Breathing

Relationship Skills used by Happy Couples

Have you ever looked at what you thought were the perfect couple and thought, “I want to be like them.” Well it isn’t fate or happenstance. Good relationships have certain qualities in them. They don’t come prepackaged. Anyone can practice them, and indeed should. Here are relationship skills used by happy couples. The first one is empathy.

Sympathy is knowing how someone else feels and showing compassion for them. Empathy is really feeling what they feel, knowing how they feel and showing compassion. Don’t assume you know how they feel outright. Our assumptions without the benefit of reflection are usually wrong and may anger or hurt our partner.  You don’t have to have lived through the same thing. Use your imagination and walk a mile in their moccasins. Close your eyes and feel what it is like to be in their position. What are their concerns, priorities, responsibilities and actions? What did they expect and what occurred instead? Once you understand their point of view intimately, from inside their head, then discuss things with them.

The next is called emotional validation. When your sweetie is upset or angry, let them know that you understand how they’re feeling, and that they have every right to feel that way. Give them your concern and sympathy. You may think that they will be even more upset with you. The truth is they will likely calm down and be able to discuss things with you rationally and calmly. That’s because you’ve validated their emotions. Emotional validation is something we all need. When we feel upset, angry or frustrated we want our partner to understand why we feel how we do, and sympathize with us. When this happens we experience an emotional release from the tension we were feeling.

Lastly, use civility and consideration in your relationship to make it healthy and happy. Little gestures such as letting someone sleep in, flowers, a small token, a handwritten note, a compliment or a big hug can change the tone instantly. These things can decrease the intensity of an argument and give room for talking and working things out. Often couples get caught in a cycle of negativity. One gesture won’t change that. But if you develop a routine of civility and consideration you can change that cycle. It’s particularly powerful if both partners become committed in breaking a cycle of negativity and replace it with a positive one. For more advice read, Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn, Proven Communication Skills by Georgianna Donadio.

Reminiscing Can Renew Your Relationship

Senior Couple Lounging on a Wood Deck

Reminiscing Can Renew Your Relationship

Of course we have to discuss the day-to-day upkeep of the household and so on with our partner, but this can get dull fast. However, sometimes when you’re sitting around, talking about the old days you can get to laughing and really get the old engines purring. Reminiscing can renew your relationship, so says a study out of the University of Queensland.

Just last year psychologists Kim Halford and Susan Osgarby sought out to test positive reminisce as a tool to boost relationships. Participants were all married for at least one year and ranged in age from 21 to 65. They all had varying degrees of marital satisfaction. None were in couple’s therapy. Two groups were created from this one pool. There were 27 put in one group and 25 in the other. Each person was asked to describe a “really positive relationship memory.” Then each partner proceeded to spend five minutes explaining one. Important events in their life together such as the birth of a child, their wedding, holidays, and shared successes such as buying their home.

Happy couples were more intimate than distressed ones as shown by this study. Happy couples became even happier sharing their reminiscences together, while distressed couples became sad. Researchers believe this is because they realize how much happier they had once been.  Happy couples seemed to be telling the stories jointly, joining in and adding facts or color as the other went on.  They elaborated on one another’s comments and this seemed to make them happier too. For happy couples even negative things that happened in their life were recalled positively. Happy couples even hugged and shared close behavior, which was absent in the distressed couples.

A lesson to learn from this study is not taking part in negativity in your relationship. Distressed couples criticize, invalidate and take part in negative behaviors towards one another. This reminiscing can make you sad if you are in a distressed relationship. If so, realize when negative behaviors pop up. Agree to take a time out at these times, and come back later with clearer thoughts and discuss calmly the issues at hand. Reminisce often. Get those old feelings flowing again. If reminiscing makes you happy let it renew your relationship. If not find out why and fix it. For more advice read, Renewing Your Wows!- Seven Powerful Tools to Ignite the Spark and Transform Your Relationship by Jeffrey H. Sumber.

Finding the Right Person

match

Finding the Right Person

Dating around is great. You get to meet so many different people, see your real likes and dislikes, and have so many romantic adventures. But there comes a time in almost everyone’s life, from the love bug who just hasn’t found the one to the player who is tired of the game, when it’s time to settle down and find love. Here are some strategies to help in finding the right person. First, you need to change your mindset completely. Most people date willy-nilly, pushed by the winds of fate to this person or to that. But this will be a conscious effort. It’s like looking for a job, the important part is meeting people and networking until what you’re looking for rises to the surface.

Now that you are in the proper mindset, don’t set out alone. Elicit the help of your friends. Who knows you better than them? You’ll want similar qualities to who they are, and they’ll know you so well that they’ll be great help. Send out a BOLO or Be On the Lookout. In other words have your friends and even family, if you are comfortable, on the alert for singles that match your criteria. It’s much easier when you have a whole legion of matchmakers at your side. You don’t have to sound desperate. Just tell them you haven’t met anyone you like lately and so you’re changing tactics. They know what you like so it should be easy. And offer to do the same for your single friends too. It makes it more like a singles exchange.

Take a look around. Sometimes people are emotionally involved with someone already, but they’ve written that person off for one reason or another. Do you have a friend or a coworker that you love to chat with? Do you guys share intimate details of you lives? Do you even have a pact that you’ll end up together if you or they never find anyone else? If you can picture yourself kissing this person than you are already into them. Shake off the denial. Have a talk with others that have seen you interact. And then why not hang out, flirt a little and slowly see if there’s any interest in taking things a bit further. You can always have some wine, and tell them it was the wine talking. A good friend would excuse and forget a little faux paus. But if it does work out you’ll have the right person for you, and they were in your midst all along. How funny and cute.

Attend social occasions, even if you don’t feel like it. Pump yourself up, slap a smile on and go out and mingle. You never know who you are going to meet. Too many singles have a negative attitude about social functions and don’t go, missing an opportunity to meet someone new. Or you might meet someone who knows someone perfect for you. So no social occasion is ever a waste. Look out for singles events in your area. Take up a new hobby that’s social; a sports team, book club, writers or artists club, whatever you fancy. And try internet dating. You’ll land the one soon and have a whole lot of fun in the process. For more advice read, Calling in “The One”: 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life by Katherine Woodward Thomas.

You can hear your Spouse Better than Strangers

COUPLE-TALKING

You can hear your Spouse Better than Strangers

Sometimes it seems like you could hear your spouse’s voice anywhere, even in a crowded train station, a bomb testing zone or the demolition floor of a construction site. This may be a slight exaggeration. But the remarkable truth is you can hear your spouse better than you can strangers, at least according to a recent study. Researchers at Canada’s Queens University used couples whose ages ranged from 44 to 79. They asked these participants to read a script. These readings were recorded and played back for their spouse. But at the same time this recording played another played simultaneously. And the voice on the other recording was the same age and gender as the listener’s spouse. At certain points in the experiment they would ask the listener what their spouse was saying, while at others they asked what the stranger said. Participants could understand their own spouse’s voice far more readily than the strangers. This research was published in the journal Psychological Science.

When the stranger’s voice was listened to, the participant’s age often had an effect on whether they could make out what the stranger was saying or not. Middle aged listeners could more readily focus in on the stranger’s voice than their older counterparts. While the middle aged have an easier time tuning out their spouse, older people don’t have that luxury. It’s good to know that we can hear our spouse’s well. But are we truly listening to what they are saying? And if not, why not? Sure the stereotype is one of tuning out our spouse. But the most successful couple’s know that positive communication and active listening are the cornerstones of their success. Practice active listening with your partner. If you feel that one or another is nagging, address it. Tell them how it makes you feel. And brainstorm other ways to communicate that are less irritating to one and more effective in causing action in the other. For more advice read, How to Speak Your Spouse’s Language: Ten Easy Steps to Great Communication from One of America’s Foremost Counselors by H. Norman Wright.